It's not what you gather, but what you scatter, that tells what kind of a life you have lived.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and wish you all the best for the new year. I'll be back after the celebrations.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day Twelve of the 12 Days of Christmas

 Well, Christmas Eve is tomorrow! I can't wait! Of course, I still have gifts I am trying to get finished. I do this every year! I say I'm going to start in January and do a certain number of gifts each month, and then I never seem to get around to it! But I tell you, this year I am. And I figure the best way to make sure I do is to document it on this blog! So keep me in line, OK? If I don't blog about at least two gifts every month, you leave me a comment reminding me to get busy! Now, for the last list of the year.
1. Save a length of your Christmas tree trunk to burn as a log next year. A slice of the trunk also makes a good ornament. Wood burn or use a marker to put the date and location, and each year add to the collection. This is especially great if you cut your own tree. We started this tradition last year, with our first cut-it-yourself tree!
2. After opening all the presents, give each family member a big hug and tell them they are the best Christmas gift of all.
3. Try to have all of your Christmas thank-you notes mailed (or emailed) by January 15th.
4. When sending thank-you notes, tuck in a photo of you enjoying the gift.
5. As you pack up the Christmas decorations, ask family members to write a prediction for the coming year. Put them in the ornament box and read them next year.
6. Acknowledge every gift you receive.
7. Take time to write the names and dates on the backs of your holiday photos.
8. If your child gets a new game for Christmas, play it with him and let him win.
9. Don't forget to set out the milk and cookies for Santa.
10. The last item on the lists for this year, and the very most important......Don't forget whose birthday we're celebrating!
I hope you have enjoyed these 12 Days of Christmas lists, and maybe have even done a few of the items. I wish for you all all the blessings you deserve now and in the coming year. May we keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts and treat one another the same way we want to be treated all year long. A Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Sorry....the rest of the drums are on backorder.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day Eleven of the 12 Days of Christmas

Two more days 'til Christmas Eve. Isn't it exciting! I'm hoping I can come up with twenty more things to put on the lists! Here goes.....
1. Take a family photo every year in the same spot. Put a tree in the background and you'll have a great record of the growth of the tree, as well as the growth of your family.
2. Have a welcoming committee for Santa! Take all the stuffed animals in the house and put them around the Christmas tree to welcome the big guy to your home.
3. Fill your house with holiday fragrance. Put some cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange peel in a pan of water and let it simmer on your stove top. Or better yet, make some wassail and have it simmering. That way, you'll have a nice warm drink anytime you want it. To make my favorite version of wassail, take 1 bottle of cranberry juice and 2 bottles of apple juice and pour them in a large stock pot. Add two oranges, sliced, 6 or 8 whole cloves and 10 cinnamon sticks. If you like, you can add some whole allspice, too. Let simmer for 15 or 20 minutes and enjoy!
4. Introduce your children to the wonders of snowflakes. Put a piece of black construction paper or card stock in the freezer for an hour, then take it out and catch some snowflakes. Examine them under a microscope.
5. Bake Christmas cookies as a family, with Christmas music playing in the background.
6. Take a basket of goodies to your local fire department and police station.
7. If your  child gives you a handmade gift, convince them that it's your favorite gift of all. This was never hard for me, because those handmade gifts were always my favorites. Still are! 
8. Tie a wreath with a big red bow to the grill of your car.
9. Do you get lots of cards every year? Do they come from all over? Have a special place to display the card that comes from the farthest distance away.
10. Don't forget your feathered friends during the holidays. Spread peanut butter on pine cones, roll them in birdseed and hand them in a tree near your kitchen window, so you can watch the birds feast on your gift to them.
All God's creature celebrate this fine season and we need to remember that even the smallest of creatures needs attention and love. Until tomorrow,

Uh oh! Better call those pipers back!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day Ten of the 12 Days of Christmas

Day ten means there's only three days left until Christmas Eve! One of my favorite nights of the whole year. I love to read a Christmas story to the family, and of course, the story of the birth of Christ from the 2nd chapter of Luke in the New Testament. That's after everyone has opened their Christmas Eve gift, which is, of course, pajamas! Here is the list for today, which has some ideas that you can do on Christmas Eve.
1. Have all the children dress up in robes and tie squares of fabric on their heads and let them act out the true Christmas story.
2. Have a little program, where the family sings carols and listens to stories about Christmases past.
3. Go caroling! My family always complains the whole time they're getting ready, but once we get going, they have loads of fun! And the people we carol to enjoy it as much as we do. Then we go have hot chocolate before going to bed to wait for you-know-who.
4. Have your big Christmas meal on Christmas Eve. That way, you don't have to spend your Christmas day in the kitchen, missing out on all the fun as family members play games or reminisce, or enjoy their new "toys". This made a big difference when I started doing this. Christmas always meant so much work for me that I was too tired to enjoy the day with family. Now, we pig out the night before, and just pick and munch on Christmas day. So much better!
5. Save a little of your Christmas money to take the family to a movie matinee Christmas afternoon. This was one of our family traditions for years when we all lived close, and we all looked forward to it each year, trying to decide which movie to go see.
6. Fill a basket with photos from Christmases past and set it somewhere where all the family will see it. This will fill hours with good memories and camaraderie.
7. Put on the music! Christmas music, that is. Fill your home with the strains of familiar carols, and new renditions as well. There are radio stations and TV stations that play all Christmas music from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas. Find one and enjoy!
8. Deliver plates of goodies to the neighbors. You can put them on the doorstep, ring the bell and run! It's so much fun, and your families will remember it for years to come.
9. Video tape your family as they talk about Christmases past. Then make copies for all of them to enjoy.
10. Begin a family Christmas journal. Write down events you attend, presents you received, memories you all shared. And don't forget to add the crises that always occur, too!
As we get closer to the day of the Savior's birth, remember, Christmas carols never sound better than when sung in church. Love to all,

They say you have to kiss a lot of toads to find a prince.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day Nine of the 12 Days of Christmas

It's day nine already! Christmas is getting closer by the minute! So, without further ado, here is your list for today.
1. Instead of exchanging gifts with close friends, go to lunch. That way you get to catch up on all the goings-on and spend time with someone you really care about. Time spent together is better than a present any day.
2. Get a small photo album, or make one yourself, and use it to keep all your favorite holiday recipes in one place. Add new ones every year, and soon you will have a collection worthy of Martha Stewart!
3. Discover the quiet satisfaction of giving anonymously.
4. Have a special tablecloth or place mats that are used only on Christmas Day. I have a set of Christmas dishes for the day.
5. Get out some ol,d family-favorite games, such as Monopoly or Aggravation. Our family likes to play Clue. Have a family tournament during the month of December, or maybe just the two weeks that the kids are out of school. Make the time memorable by giving small prizes and keeping a photo record of the tournament winners to go in your family Christmas album.
6. Ask your children what they are giving this year, instead of what they are getting.
7. Make a special effort to call family members or friends who have lost someone they love in the last year. Let them know you are thinking of them and wish them peace.
8. Be sure to wave "Thank you" when someone lets you into the holiday traffic. I do this one all year long and you would be surprised how it affects people.
9. When you see a family or group taking pictures of one another, offer to take one of the whole group.
10. If you live in a college town, this is a good one for you. There are always students who can't afford to go home for the holidays. Call the dean and ask if there might be a couple of students who would like to share a holiday meal with your family.

I think the spirit of Christmas is a most wonderful thing! If we could practice the spirit of giving and love all year round, think what the world would be like! Like Tiny Tim would say, "God bless us, every one!"

And they all had fun at the lady bug picnic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day Eight of the 12 Days of Christmas

Today's list is a last-minute tip list. Hope you find something that helps.
1. Don't forget the batteries!
2. Don't forget to hang the mistletoe. :0
3. If you are having a Christmas or New Year's party, turn down the thermostat before all the guests arrive. Crowded rooms heat up really fast!
4. Save all the information on toys, electronics, appliances, etc. Things like manufacturer's addresses, customer service information, and help line numbers. And don't forget to mail in warranty cards promptly.
5. Amid all the hustle and bustle and stress and strain, don't forget to be good to yourself. You are working overtime, remember?
6. Save your gift lists from year to year so you don't duplicate gifts. This is especially helpful if you are crafty and make your own gifts. It's really easy to forget what you made for whom.
7. Wrap up a few small gifts, such as nice picture frames or blank books (journals) to have on hand in case you forgot someone on your list. Put blank tags on them so all you have to do is add a name.
8. If you have young children, be sure you get on your sitter's calendar in advance, so you will be all set to go to those adult Christmas functions.
9. Save the boxes for your fragile decorations, so you can pack them away safely after the holiday season.
10. Make sure your car battery is in good condition, especially if you live in cold country. A dead battery in the mall parking lot is no fun ! 
I hope your holiday season is going well. No, better than well. I hope it's great! I love this time of the year! With it's cold days and colder nights, it gives us a reason to drink hot chocolate and wear scarves and hats and mittens. And big, warm coats! And we get to go sledding and build snowmen and just celebrate being together! So, make your day a little better by doing something for yourself and something for someone else. Until tomorrow,

The maids were frightened away by those leaping Lords!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day Seven of the 12 Days of Christmas

Day 7....How time does fly! I hope you are all taking the time to do something off these lists at least once or twice a week, if not every day. I think we can all make someone's Christmas just a little better by doing these things, even if that someone is us! Here is today's list.
1. Feed someone's parking meter.
2. Research your family history and serve  a special holiday food or drink that your ancestors might have enjoyed.
3. If you are taking a car trip with children, take turns making up silly verses for the "12 Days of Christmas."
4. Make arrangements to donate leftover food from a holiday party to  a homeless shelter.
5. Let younger create their own wrapping paper. Buy a roll of plain white or brown paper and let them draw or paint or use rubber stamps to decorate it. They will have a great time!
6. Print small pictures of family members to use instead of gift tags.
7. Take time to remember that the greatest gift is a home filled with the people you love.
8. Follow the Irish tradition of putting a bird's nest in your tree for luck in the new year.
9. Give your seat on the bus or subway to someone holding lots of packages.
10. Give a pint of blood. It's the gift of life!
Now, get busy and do something! Life is getting shorter by the day for all of us, so don't let it pass you by before you've done something fun! And remember,in the words of Hamilton Wright Malvie, "Blessed is the season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." Until the morrow.....

The swans went south for the winter, but lift this (feather) for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day Six of the 12 Days of Christmas

This is day 6 and we're halfway to Christmas Eve! I said yesterday that this list was going to be all about service, so here it is:
1. Volunteer as a family to work in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter during the holidays.
2. Adopt a needy family for the holidays and let members of your family buy a present for the person closest to their own age.
3. Call a nursing home and get the names of 5 or 6 people who don't get much mail. Send each one a beautiful Christmas card and sign it from "Santa".
4. Give new friends or neighbors that have just moved to town a subscription to the local newspaper or the paper from their old hometown.
5. Offer to run errands for an elderly friend or relative.
6. Give someone with failing eyesight a large-print edition of a classic book.
7. Help an elderly neighbor decorate their home for the holidays.
8. Give your place at the check-out or gift-wrapping line to someone who looks as if they've had a hard day.
9. Offer to help a disabled person with his or her Christmas shopping.
10. Be others-centered instead of self-centered. A person wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package.
These are just small things that can be done to make someone else's season bright. They don't take a lot of time or money, and can make a real difference to the person receiving the service. Try some out this week and see how good it makes you feel. And give your family the chance to feel good, too! It will make your children better people to help others. See you tomorrow,

Six geese a-laying out on their vacation in the sun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day Five of the 12 Days of Christmas

For today, we have a list of all kinds of things. Just little tips to make the season brighter.
1. Be creative with your gift wrapping. Use newspapers, funny papers, maps, posters, the yellow pages, old book pages, etc. I'm sure you can come up with lots of ideas for other material to use.
2. Never miss a chance to shake hands with Santa Claus.
3. If your family doesn't have many Christmas traditions, let this be the year you create some!
4.Give at least one Teddy bear this year. Everyone loves a Teddy bear.
5. Offer to hide your neighbors gifts for their children so that little snoopers won't be able to find them.
6. Don't try to do everything yourself. Remember, even Santa has helpers.
7. If you hide gifts, make a list of what you have hidden where so that you will be able to find them all.
8.Take your camera to holiday parties with you, then send photos to the host or hostess with your thank you note.
9. Write Joy to the World with your finger on a frosty window pane.
10. When you hear "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" grab the family member closest to you and swing them to the music!
Hope you enjoy some of the things on this list. It's a light and fun list. The next on will be all about service to others. And this year, give yourself the gift of peace with those things in your life that you know you cannot change. Until tomorrow, 

Jingle bells ring, too!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day Four of the 12 Days of Christmas

Today's list is very family oriented. Try to pick more than one of these to do.
1. Teach your kids  look at the gift tag BEFORE they open the present, so they know who it came from. And Thank You notes are nice, too, even if they are a lost art.
2. Record your kids singing Christmas carols and send it to grandparents who live far away.
3. Wrap your child's bedroom door like a big present.
4. Throughout the holiday season, give your family the gift is a sweet disposition.
5. Relax with your family on Christmas afternoon by looking at photos of Christmases past.
6. Help you children bake cookies and bread to give to teachers, bus drivers and coaches.
7.When a family member looks stressed out, give them a big hug.
8. Take lots of photos! No matter how many you take, you'll always wish you had taken more.
9. Make your family feel just as important as holiday company.
10. Remember that the loving holiday spirit in your home depends more on the words you speak than on the gifts you give.

So that's today's list. The more you do these things, the better your family's memories will be. We all remember things differently, but if the whole family remembers this year as a great one, you've succeeded in drawing them closer. See you tomorrow, 

Day 4 - It's really birds calling, but who's keeping track?
(You can't see it very well because of the glare, but
the birds are all on their phones!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day Three of the 12 Days of Christmas

As I said yesterday, today's list is about common sense, something we sometimes forget at this time of the year.
1. Don't schedule yourself too tightly during the holidays. Before making a commitment, ask yourself if it can wait until after Christmas.
2. Be sure to check you camera batteries. Do they need to be replaced before the big morning? Also, be sure to buy more wrapping paper, scotch tape and tags than you think you will need. Better safe than sorry.
3. Don't give your spouse or significant other a bathroom scale for a Christmas gift!
4. Unplug the Christmas lights before leaving the house or going to bed.

5. Don't shop during peak hours. Avoid lunchtime and Saturdays. Early mornings and evenings are best.

6. Never set a candle on a counter underneath a cabinet or shelf. Heat rises, and this can create a fire hazard.
7. Don't burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. It's both a health hazard and a fire hazard.
8. Don't leave packages in plain sight when you park your car. Store them in the trunk.
9. Be sure to check the water level of your tree everyday. If it gets too dry, it becomes a fire hazard.
10. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and close to the tree.

All common sense ideas, but sometimes we just don't think. And remember, any fire chief in any city or town will tell you that this time of year is the biggest time for house fires. You don't want to be one of them, so take great care and you'll be taking great care of those you love. Until tomorrow,

Day 3 - Just waiting to serve you. Mais oui!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day Two of the 12 Days of Christmas

Your list for today is a fun one. Read the whole list and I'm sure you will find something that will suit you.
1. Sprinkle red and green confetti in all your Christmas card envelopes so that it goes all over the place when the recipient pulls the card out of the envelope!
2. Wear a smile and a Santa hat when you walk through the mall.
3. Start working on a Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle and try to have it completed by Christmas Eve.
4. Rent a Santa Claus suit. Slip it on during lunch hour and hand out candy canes to everyone in the office.
5. Tie jingle bells on your kids' shoelaces.

6. When you think you have enough lights on your tree or house, add two more!
7. Create a homemade sled from a large appliance box, then go find the biggest hill you can.
8. Help you child make red and green paper chains from construcion paper and hang them all over his or her room.
9. Be the first to lob a snowball and start a battle. If you live where there is no snow, make white yarn pom-poms and pretend they are snowballs.
10. Load the family in the car, slip in your favorite Christmas CD and drive through the neighborhood looking at the decorations. Roll down the windows and shout "Merry Christmas!" to everyone you see.

Now, there should be something here for everone. If not, then maybe your name should be Ebeneezer Scrouge! =)  Tomorrow's list will be a little more conservative, with common sense ideas that you may not even think about. See you then, and remember, "love came down at Christmastime...", so spread a little of it around!

Day 2 - Two Dove turtles

Day One of the 12 Days of Christmas

How time does fly! I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted. And now I'm a day late starting the 12 Days of Christmas posts! That just means you get two posts today. This year, I'm doing it a little bit differently. Instead of a project or recipe or craft every day, I'm focusing on family and service and the real spirit of Christmas. I will give you ten ideas or activities each day for the next 12 days. Some may be things you already do, and some will be things to do for yourself. Hopefully some will be new ideas for you. So here goes....

1. Be the first to wish everyone you meet and Merry Christmas!

2. Buy yourself or your spouse a pair of red flannel pajamas that you wear only on Christmas Eve.

3. Take the family to see a small town parade.

4. Don't count calories from December 15th through January 2nd.

5. Never select a Christmas tree after dark.

6. Take a basket of goodies to a notoriously grumpy neighbor.

7. Mend a broken relationship with a friend or relative during the holiday season.

8. Be nice to sales personnel. They're often more weary than you are!

9. Don't despair if you are short of cash. Be creative. Looking back, you will discover that the Christmases when you had the least were the Christmases when you gained the most and had the best memories.

10. Hang a favorite Christmas ornament from your car's rear view mirror. It will cheer you up when you are sitting in holiday traffic.

That's your list for today. If you implement even one of these ideas today, you will be a better person for it. It may make you feel better, or it may make a family member or friend feel better. It may even make someone you don't even know feel better! And if you can do that every day for 12 days, then why not all year long? Remember, Christmas is about the spirit, not how much you spend or how many gifts you give. See you tomorrow,

These are ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) I did for a swap.
Day 1 - Sorry, it's a bare tree and no partridge in sight.
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